Panel: The Influence of Common Core on Classroom and Student Outcomes

Friday, November 9, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
8209 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Carolyn J. Heinrich, Vanderbilt University
Discussants:  Shaun Dougherty, Vanderbilt University

Changes in Teachers' Knowledge and Instructional Practice Related to Common Core State Standards
Julia H Kaufman, V. Darleen Opfer, Michelle Bongard and Joseph Pane, RAND Corporation

The Impacts of High School Quality on Postsecondary Outcomes: Evidence from California
Scott Carrell, Michal Kurlaender, Paco Martorell and Matthew Naven, University of California, Davis

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover: Evaluating Textbooks and Instructional Materials Using Student Achievement
Thomas Kane1, David Blazar2, Blake Heller1, Rachel Hitch1, Jake Kramer1 and Douglas Staiger3, (1)Harvard University, (2)University of Maryland, (3)Dartmouth College

The Common Core was an ambitious effort intended to raise standards, assess student learning, and hold schools accountable for improvement. As designed this approach would improve outcomes for all students and close achievement gaps. But, researchers have resolved few questions about the changes caused by the implementation of the Common Core (Polikoff, 2017). Using new sources of data and surveys, this panel explores how the standards influenced schools, instructional texts, teachers, and students.

Before standards can impact what students learn, they must lead to changes in teachers’ knowledge and instructional practice. The first paper utilizes a nationally-representative survey panel to examine change in teachers’ standards-aligned knowledge and instructional practices. Preliminary analyses indicate increases in teachers’ use of some online standards-aligned materials and some standards-aligned instructional practices for ELA. Conversely, teachers reported fewer aligned practices related to students’ skills and almost no change in teachers’ reported knowledge about Common Core were found. These suggest that teachers may have growing awareness of what materials and practices are aligned with their standards.

Common Core aimed to raise overall achievement and improve college readiness. Yet, it is unclear if the standards have changed the distribution of school quality and postsecondary schooling outcomes. The second paper explores the variance in secondary school quality and the strength of its relationship with postsecondary outcomes under the Common Core. High school value-added estimates for the 2015-2017 cohorts were linked to application and enrollment records from higher education systems in California. Preliminary findings indicate that attending a high-quality school is associated with an increase in postsecondary application, acceptance, and enrollment. Furthermore, students who attend high-quality schools are also less likely to need remediation upon enrolling in a university.


Standards also influence student learning through course materials. The third paper examines the alignment of texts with the standards and their subsequent effect on student achievement. Information was collected on textbooks and the intensity with which instructional materials that were both aligned and not aligned with Common Core were utilized. Administrative data –including test scores—were then linked to textbook information. The vast majority of schools indicated responsiveness to Common Core by purchasing aligned instructional materials. However, value-added estimates find that very little variation in student achievement is attributable to textbooks. This indicates that the Common Core partly met its stated goal by aligning materials and instruction to a common set of standards.

The fourth paper estimates the causal effect of implementing Common Core on student outcomes. Implementation of previous standards-based reforms was associated with higher NAEP scores (Dee & Jacob, 2011). However, there is not clear agreement regarding whether the Common Core improved student outcomes (Loveless, 2015; 2016; C-SAIL, 2018). The power of these studies to detect significant results and heterogeneous effects is limited by using average state test scores. A new approach utilizes the NAEP student level micro-data. Preliminary difference-in-differences results suggest that the Common Core had a small but significant effect. The standards also appear to exacerbate achievement gaps between white and black students.

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